Many might believe that to become a writer you must write well. You must be able to flesh out various characters, create a compelling plot, and be able to weave in elegance with the mundane.
Essentially, you are a magician, creating something out of nothing. Wingardium Leviosa—or so they say. Other characteristics of a writer might include a passion for reading, an impressive vocabulary, as well as an active and overflowing imagination.
There are many things that make up a writer, but I believe there is one important trait that every writer must have: the ability to accept rejection. This is right up there with writing well and creating a good plot.
Writers get rejected a lot. Whether it be from literary magazines, agents, or publishing agencies, being a writer means that you are no stranger to failure. For those looking to pursue writing full time, the guarantee of failure might sound disheartening (and sometimes it can be!). We don’t want to hear that we will fail right off the bat, but it’s a reality that we need to face.
Despite what we might personally feel about rejection and failure, it can offer many lessons and push us to different heights. So what does the ability to accept rejection entail?
Rejection can be absolutely soul crushing. After spending numerous weeks, months, even years working on a particular piece, the last thing we want to receive is a rejection letter.
Despite this, however, we need to come to understand that not everyone will like our writing. It might be too different, too avante garde, too symbolic. But as we edit and continue to work on our writing, it will eventually be noticed, even if it’s only a select few. We need to be able to move past the pile of rejection letters and continue writing in the face of failure.
Finding the right home for our writing will take time—sometimes a lot of time. But that doesn’t mean it will never happen. As long as we persevere and continue to write, our story will surely resonate with someone.
Through rejection, we can find community, too. Some people might view writing as lonely and I get why they think that. Writing rarely involves working with others. Most of the time, it’s just you and your creativity trying to fill a blank page. Only when your writing gets accepted do you need to work with editors, publishing staff, and an agent.
Rejection helps us to look for things that weren’t previously there; and one of those things might be a community of fellow writers. When we become part of a community, the rejection doesn’t feel too bad, as there are others going through the same thing. A community also helps in cheering you up and giving encouragement for your next submission.
In order to remain sane and continue writing for a long time, a community is definitely something you need.
Looking to improve
Rejection doesn’t always make you feel depressed and downtrodden—it can actually do the exact opposite!
Rejection is funny like that, that the aftermath causes us to analyze our work and figure out what we can improve. Perhaps it’s more imagery, less dialogue, or even looking at the story from a different lens.
Luckily for us, as we continuously look to improve our craft, there are a million methods we can apply to our writing to do just that. There is also the possibility of workshops and writing retreats. We may not physically be able to see the improvement, but given enough time and effort, someone out there will recognize it.
A reminder to love writing
Due to the capitalist nature of the world, it isn’t unheard of to become invested in the business side of things—writing included. If we have this in mind and measure our writing based on the amount of money and fame we receive, the sheer number of rejections would be heartbreaking.
As we receive these rejection letters, however, it’s important to not be consumed by them. Instead, we should take a step back and remember the reason why we started writing in the first place. Figure out what place writing has in your life and why you continue to pursue this grandiose venture.
Writing is more than a check and a pile of critiques; writing is a respite, a safe place, a chance to begin again. It is a passion that holds countless possibilities, despite others telling us anything different.
Never the end of the road
Rejection will always be terrifying. But as time wore on and I continued on this path, I’ve come to learn that rejection doesn’t equal the end.
With all the people in the world, we will always have an audience that looks forward to what we write. They will laugh, cry, and empathize with the characters we create. It is important to remember that we are writing for them, and most importantly, ourselves.
So tell your story—the world is waiting to read it.